New electoral system crucial to ‘one country, two systems’

The Legislative Council on Thursday passed the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021. The new law will be gazetted next week and take effect immediately, symbolizing a milestone in the faithful implementation of "governance by patriots" in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under "one country, two systems".

The improved electoral system suits Hong Kong's current real conditions and needs, and will help advance the HKSAR's pursuit of excellent governance with efficient democracy. When fully implemented, the upgraded electoral system should put Hong Kong back on the right track of exercising "one country, two systems" as it was originally intended. It is expected to prevent the kind of paralyzing political wrangling that plagued the city in recent years from happening again, thus allowing all sectors of Hong Kong society concentrate on socioeconomic development that will improve people's well-being in the years to come.

Not surprisingly, the improvement of Hong Kong's electoral system through local legislation has been demonized and attacked out of sheer ideological bias against China, including its Hong Kong SAR, by the usual suspects in Washington and London since the process began. The groundless and stale accusations, of course, were accompanied by threats of sanctions against certain leading officials of the HKSAR government but all have proven futile in the end.

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The decision to improve Hong Kong's electoral system was made by the central authorities in Beijing, who have overall jurisdiction over the special administrative region, including the power to approve electoral reform in the region. This power is underpinned by China’s Constitution and is above and beyond any challenge by anybody or any group. The Government of the People's Republic of China is authorized by the country's Constitution to protect national interests by means such as enacting the National Security Law for the HKSAR and improving the latter's electoral system through local legislation.

All the arbitrary criticism of efforts to improve Hong Kong's electoral system and governance can be summed up as the product of a double-standard philosophy and downright hypocrisy that is a trademark of Western politics and a big chunk of Western mainstream media. Apart from the fact there has never been a universal model of democracy in the world or ever will be one in the foreseeable future, they also ignore the electoral system reforms their own countries have undergone repeatedly through the ages. The Democratic Party in the US is pushing a bill in Congress which, if passed, would significantly alter the electoral system there.

Hong Kong’s improved electoral system will serve as the last line of defense for the principle of "one country, two systems", particularly the absolute assurance of "one country" before "two systems" no matter what

It is no secret that anti-China forces in Hong Kong went out of their way to disrupt the Legislative Council’s business and obstruct the HKSAR government's operations almost daily for more than 20 years, culminating in the violent and destructive "black revolution" in the second half of 2019 and the so-called "35-plus primary" in the summer of 2020. All such unlawful behavior, subversive acts and tremendous harm they did to the overall interest of Hong Kong society would have landed the culprits in prison in any other country, but the Western governments and mainstream media that have instigated or supported such political stunts cannot afford to acknowledge that simple reality. That is precisely why Beijing decided to improve Hong Kong's electoral system, which was exploited and abused by those Western powers through their proxies or allies in Hong Kong over the years. It had to be done without further delay to end routine sabotage by anti-China forces in Hong Kong for good and protect China's national interests, including sovereignty and national security, by ensuring "patriots governing Hong Kong" with an electoral system custom-made to its unique conditions.

Hong Kong’s improved electoral system will serve as the last line of defense for the principle of "one country, two systems", particularly the absolute assurance of "one country" before "two systems" no matter what. As long as it works as designed, the room for "two systems" to coexist and flourish will be secure and abundant under the premise of "one country". All the opposition figures in Hong Kong have to do if they still want to participate in the political decision-making process is abide by Hong Kong law and always treat "one country" with utmost respect.

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The NPC decision to improve Hong Kong's electoral system through local legislation has won overwhelming public support in the SAR, and LegCo passed the aforesaid bill after the third reading and careful deliberation in full respect of popular wish. It is sincerely hoped that the revised election law has effectively plugged all the loopholes in the old electoral system, so as to ensure "governance by patriots" in the HKSAR and the faithful and consistent exercise of "one country, two systems". This will allow Hong Kong to focus on socioeconomic development and fixing the deep-rooted social problems, such as chronic short supply of affordable residential housing, a widening wealth gap and increasingly difficult upward mobility of the young people because of a narrow economic base.

Under the improved electoral system, LegCo is expected leave behind the days when ill-motivated opposition lawmakers routinely undermined the SAR government with endless filibustering of bills, including funding bills crucial to matters concerning people's livelihood as well as the healthy development of the local economy.

It is no surprise that the great majority of Hong Kong residents have been supportive of the move to improve the electoral system since day one and the passage of the bill is just the beginning of many things for them to applaud in the years to come.

The author is a current affairs commentator. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.